BRF: Joining Forces for Mutual Growth and Success

Attending the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) from October 17-20, President Vo Van Thuong made his way to Beijing by invitation of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President Xi Jinping.

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Journey of Vietnam and BRF

In May 2017, during the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, Vietnamese leaders stated that in the current turning point of the world, each country and region is seeking new approaches, being creative, and maximizing potential and advantages. They aim to effectively utilize advanced achievements of science and technology to ensure a peaceful, secure, and stable environment for sustainable development.

In this spirit, Vietnam welcomes economic and regional connectivity initiatives in general and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in particular. Vietnam is ready to cooperate with other countries in researching and implementing projects that bring common benefits, contributing to the successful achievement of sustainable development goals.

During the second BRF in April 2019, Vietnamese leaders shared Vietnam’s 30-year journey of innovation, emphasizing that each country’s development responsibility lies in promoting extensive international integration. This integration serves as the foundation for successful cooperation.

At that time, Vietnam focused on domestic socio-economic development while also promoting international integration, including cooperation with BRI. Vietnam diligently worked on implementing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and actively participated in initiatives to reduce plastic waste and preserve biodiversity.

President Vo Van Thuong represented Vietnam at the third BRF, attending at the invitation of General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the forum, leaders discussed connectivity issues, green development, digital economy, commercial connections, people-to-people exchanges, local cooperation, and maritime cooperation.

BRF: Together for Common Development and Prosperity
President Vo Van Thuong at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Strengthening BRI cooperation and regional connectivity

The BRI was first introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits to Central Asia (September 2013) and Southeast Asia (October 2013). Geographically, the BRI stretches from Asia to Europe and has the potential to expand to Africa and Latin America. The two main components are the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Vietnam is located within the geographical scope of the BRI and has a significant need for infrastructure investment. Many experts recognize that through the BRI, Vietnam can attract more capital for infrastructure and transportation development. This investment opportunity can help increase service capacity and economic development while also strengthening trade and investment exchanges and connections with Southeast Asian countries.

In November 2017, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam and attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit Week, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting connectivity between the “Two Corridors, One Belt” framework and the BRI.

In 2022, at the 14th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation in Nanning, the two sides agreed to enhance strategic development and accelerate cooperation through the BRI and the “Two Corridors and One Economic Belt” plan.

Most recently, at the end of July 2023, during Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s visit to China, the two sides agreed to actively promote strategic development connections and accelerate cooperation to build a high-quality BRI. They aim to strengthen road and rail connections in border areas, constructing a multi-modal, highly efficient, and durable logistics system.

In terms of infrastructure, several cross-border traffic connection projects between Vietnam and China have been researched and implemented. These include the feasibility study of the 1,435m railway from Lao Cai to Hanoi to Hai Phong, the construction of the Bac Luan bridge in Mong Cai, preparation for building a bridge across the Red River in Lao Cai, and signing a pilot cooperation document to construct a digital border gate between the two localities of Lang Son and Guangxi.

In addition, many Chinese and Vietnamese transportation and logistics enterprises such as ASEAN – Chongqing International Logistics Co., Ltd., Chongqing Yuxinou Supply Chain Management Co., Ltd., Ratraco, and Delta International Company have transported hundreds of thousands of containers of goods from Chongqing through Vietnam to ASEAN countries and from Vietnam through China to third countries, including Europe, Russia, Central Asian countries, and Mongolia.

At the recent eighth Belt and Road Summit, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung assessed that Vietnam plays a “bridge” role between China and Southeast Asian countries. Therefore, cooperation between Vietnam and China within the BRI framework is significant in promoting regional cooperation and connectivity.

Recently, BRI cooperation between Vietnam, China, and other countries in the region has shown notable features. These include the growth of Industrial Revolution 4.0 and major trends such as digital transformation and green transformation. These trends are reshaping regional and global supply chains, presenting opportunities to increase cooperation between China, Vietnam, and Southeast Asian countries.

“Harmonized benefits – shared risks”

Minister Nguyen Chi Dung emphasized that Vietnam is focusing on innovating the growth model based on technology and innovation, promoting human resources, actively implementing digital and green transformation, aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, and becoming a high-income developed country by 2045.

In this new context, Vietnam wishes to continue contributing to promoting economic integration and regional connectivity. Vietnam aims to support countries in building infrastructure and expanding markets, thus narrowing the development gap between countries and bringing new opportunities to businesses and people in the region and around the world.

For the BRI to continue serving as a catalyst for regional cooperation and development, Vietnam, China, and countries in the region need to strengthen policy connections, actively exchange information, and share development experiences in areas such as digital economy, green economy, and new development models. Examples of such models include international trade free ports, smart border gates, and cross-border economic zones (CBEZ).

At the same time, it is necessary to accelerate cooperation and connection of the transport network between China, Vietnam, and Southeast Asian countries, particularly the railway network. Trade facilitation is also crucial, opening doors for goods and agricultural products from various countries to enter each other’s markets.

Therefore, BRI participants need to promote cooperation in the spirit of “harmonized benefits, shared risks”, equality, sincerity, mutual benefit, and respect for international law. BRI should continue to develop and bring tangible, sustainable results. This responsibility lies with each country and serves as the foundation for ensuring a peaceful environment and creating favorable conditions for cooperation and development in the region.

Hai Dang